Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said his administration was convinced BVI Airways was reliable because a number of government affiliates had endorsed the airline.
During a media conference on Thursday, Premier Smith was asked whether he thought government had ‘lapses in due diligence’ when they chose to do business with the reportedly defunct airline.
The Premier did not give a straightforward answer. However, he identified two persons – Chairman of the BVI Tourist Board Russell Harrigan, as well a leading personnel in his Ministry – as being part of a delegation that met with BVI Airways then reported back to government.
“The group that we got involved with (BVI Airways) was highly recommended by some of our legal counsel. Also, we had discussions with them and we sent representatives. That is, our financial secretary and the Chairman of the Tourist Board … That’s the reason we went forward because it seemed, from the presentation [by BVI Airways], it was a good deal,” Dr Smith told journalists.
Neil Smith served as Financial Secretary at the time government signed the fateful deal with BVI Airways.
‘These things take time’
Following that response, Premier was asked why efforts to recoup the $7.2 million invested in the airline seem to be stagnant.
The Smith administration has been claiming for months now that the Attorney General is counselling government on how to proceed with the airline-related dispute.
“The progress may seem slow to you but these things do take time when it comes to resolving issues we have.”
“For example, a case involving a extradition which has been going on for years. So, the progress is a matter of the discussions that take place between the lawyers – who represent the government – and the information we need to carry out to continue the discussions.”
The premier was further elusive when asked questions on whether the government is in active discussions with the airline.
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